Jimmy Morales

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Jimmy Morales
Reunión OPIC (cropped).jpg
50th President of Guatemala
Assumed office
14 January 2016
Vice President Jafeth Cabrera
Preceded by Alejandro Maldonado
2th Secretary-General of the National Convergence Front
In office
10 March 2013 – 11 January 2016
Deputy Édgar Ovalle Maldonado
Preceded by José Luis Quilo
Succeeded by Édgar Ovalle Maldonado
Personal details
Born James Ernesto Morales Cabrera
(1969-03-18) 18 March 1969 (age 49)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Political party National Convergence Front
Children 4
Alma mater University of San Carlos of Guatemala
Website Official website[dead link]

Jimmy Morales (born James Ernesto Morales Cabrera; 18 March 1969) is a Guatemalan politician, who won the 2015 Guatemalan presidential election with over 67 percent of the vote in the second round. He has served as President of Guatemala since January 2016.

In 2013, Morales joined the National Convergence Front (FCN/Nation), and became its Secretary-General. Prior to his entry into politics, he was a comic actor.

Early and personal life[edit]

Morales was born in Guatemala City, to José Everardo Morales Orellana and Celíta Ernestina Cabrera Acevedo.[1] He comes from a circus family, and is an Evangelical Christian.[2][3] His father was killed in a car accident when he was three years old, prompting him, his mother and three siblings to move to his grandparents' home, where he grew up.[4] By the time he was 10 years old, he and his brother Sammy accompanied their grandfather to sell bananas and used clothing at the market in Santa Lucia.[5][6]

He holds degrees in Business Administration from the national Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, and in Theology.[3] Morales also holds a Master's degree in Strategic Studies with specialization in Security and Defense from Mariano Gálvez University, and a Ph.D. in Strategic Studies from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.[1]

Morales rose to fame as a TV comedian, starring in the series Moralejas ("Morals") alongside his brother Sammy.[7] He formally changed his name from James Ernesto Morales Cabrera to Jimmy Morales by deed poll in 2011.[8]

Morales has been married for over two decades to Hilda Patricia Marroquin, and has three children.[9][10]

Political career[edit]

Mayoral candidacy[edit]

In 2011, he ran as mayoral candidate in Mixco in the Guatemala City suburbs for the small right-wing Action for National Development party. He came in third.[9][11]

Presidential campaign[edit]

In 2013, Morales joined the small National Convergence Front (FCN/Nation), and became its Secretary-General.

In 2015, Morales was nominated as the FCN's presidential candidate. His priorities were fighting corruption, and dealing with chronic malnutrition, low education levels, and insecurity.[6] His slogan was "Neither corrupt, nor a thief" (Ni corrupto, ni ladrón).[2][3] He ran on a platform of conservative values, and against corruption.[3] He identifies as a nationalist, supports the death penalty, opposes abortion and legalized drugs, and denies that a genocide against the Ixil Maya took place.[12][13][7]

He was initially considered an outsider, but surprisingly led the field in the first round of the election, qualifying for a runoff alongside former First Lady Sandra Torres.[2] Morales' success came after both former vice president Roxana Baldetti and outgoing president Otto Pérez Molina had to step down, and were arrested on fraud and corruption charges (the La Línea corruption case).[2]


In the runoff, Morales defeated Torres in a landslide, taking 67.4 percent of the vote.[14] Morales' success was viewed as a sign of the distrust of many Guatemalans towards the traditional political elite that ruled the country for decades. Voter anger and military support helped him win the presidency against more experienced politicians who voters felt were tainted by a corrupt political system.[2][3]

On December 24, 2017, Morales announced that he planned to move the Guatemalan embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He became the second national leader to announce a decision to make such a move, after U.S. President Donald Trump made a similar announcement on December 6.[15]

Following the policies taken by the Donald Trump government of separation of families, on June 18, 2018 the government of Jimmy Morales was harshly criticized by all sectors for his slow action in favor of Guatemalans affected by the policy of the American government, this caused the dismissal of the presidential spokesman Heinz Heimann who a day before his removal from office, said that the government of Jimmy Morales respected the policy of President Trump.[16]

Comments on Belize[edit]

When Morales was running for president, a journalist asked him which Guatemalan historical event he thought was the most deplorable, and he referred to the Belizean–Guatemalan territorial dispute that has been simmering since 1821. Morales responded:

"Everything that goes contrary to national unity and territorial integrity are things that should hurt us. Something is happening right now; we are about to lose Belize. We have not lost it yet. We still have the possibility of going to the International Court of Justice, where we can fight that territory or part of that territory.... I think that it is worth anything that is natural resources and of benefit to the nation."[17]

In response, Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow said:

"Look, he's made at least one statement that is troubling, but I am hoping that if he does win the Guatemalan foreign policy establishment, the Guatemalan political elite, and certainly the international community will make absolutely clear to that gentleman that any notion of pursuing their claim in a way that is disruptive of the good relations between Belize and Guatemala, that is threatening to Belize, simply will not be tolerated. So, I am sure that we will be able to deal with that situation if and when it occurs."[18]

Guatemalan Defense Minister Williams Mansilla confirmed on 22 April 2016 the deployment of 3,000 soldiers to the Guatemalan border with Belize, after a shooting incident on Belize territory with army weapons resulted in the death of a 13-year-old boy and the wounding of his 11-year-old brother, as well as their 48-year-old father.[19]

Corruption controversies[edit]

In January 2017, Morales' older brother and close adviser Samuel "Sammy" Morales, as well as one of Morales' sons, José Manuel Morales, were arrested on corruption and money laundering charges.[20][21] According to media reports, the arrests prompted several large protests of up to 15,000 people demanding for President Morales' removal. The most recent took place in September 2017. Morales, whose campaign slogan was, "neither corrupt, nor a crook", refused to step down.[22][23][24][25]

In August 2017, Morales ordered the expulsion of Colombian Iván Velásquez, commissioner of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), after it began "investigating claims that his party took illegal donations, including from drug-traffickers" and asked "congress to strip him of immunity from prosecution."[26][27] The Constitutional Court of Guatemala blocked the move.[27] Minister of foreign affairs Carlos Raul Morales had refused to sign the executive order, and was removed from office along with viceminister Carlos Ramiro Martínez, and viceminister Anamaría Diéguez resigned.[28][29][30] Velásquez confirmed he will continue as CICIG commissioner following the Constitutional Court decision to block his expulsion.[27] In September 2017, the Congress of Guatemala refused to strip Morales of his immunity, rejecting commissioner Velásquez's suggestion.[31]

In September 2017, it was revealed that the Ministry of Defense, headed by Williams Mansilla, had been paying President Morales a $7,300 per month bonus since December 2016, in addition to his regular salary.[32] The payments from the defense ministry were referred to as a "Bonus for Extraordinary Responsibility."[32] Mansilla resigned from office soon after the payments were revealed to the public.[32] He was later arrested and charged with corruption in January 2018, relating to the special bonus to Morales.[32] President Morales denied the bonuses were illegal, but did return approximately $60,000 to the government.[32]



  1. ^ a b Contreras, Geovanni (18 March 2016). "Jimmy Morales está de cumpleaños. ¿Qué le regalaría?" (in Spanish). Pensa Libre. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Juan Montes (7 September 2015). "Comedian Jimmy Morales Leads Guatemalan Election". The Wall Street Journal. 
  3. ^ a b c d e José Elías (7 September 2015). "Jimmy Morales, el candidato sorpresa". El País. 
  4. ^ Lemos, Eirini (15 January 2016). "Jimmy Morales: Guatemala's clown who went on to become president". The Telegraph. 
  5. ^ "Jimmy Morales: Guatemala's clown who went on to become president," Telegraph.
  6. ^ a b "Jimmy Morales used to do blackface comedy. He’s now poised to be Guatemala’s president," The Washington Post.
  7. ^ a b Louisa Reynolds (10 June 2015). "In Guatemala, anti-establishment presidential candidate benefits from corruption scandals". The Tico Times. 
  8. ^ La Hora. "ISSUU – Edicion Impresa – Viernes 1 Abril 2011 by La Hora". Issuu. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Henry Morales (4 September 2015). "Jimmy Morales, el comediante que quiere ser un presidente serio". Prensa Libre. 
  10. ^ "Comedian takes office as Guatemala's new president". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  11. ^ "Have a laugh at Guatemala's new president - Macleans.ca". 29 October 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  12. ^ "Jimmy Morales, Comedian Candidate to Guatemalan Presidency". Prensa Latina English. 2 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Guatemala just elected a comedian with zero political experience to be president", Vox.
  14. ^ Official results
  15. ^ Clara Lopez and Joe Sterling. "Guatemala to move embassy to Jerusalem, president says". CNN. Retrieved 2017-12-25. 
  16. ^ William Oliva. "Después de presiones y críticas, el Gobierno rechaza la separación de familias migrantes". Prensa Libre (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-6-8.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  17. ^ Trujillo, Renee. "Presidential Candidate for Guatemala Says Belize Can Still Be Fought For", LOVE FM, 9 September 2015 (accessed 28 September 2015)
  18. ^ "Is Dean Barrow Worried About Jimmy Morales?", 7 News Belize, Naturalight Productions Ltd., 29 September 2015 (accessed 26 October 2015)
  19. ^ "Guatemala despliega 3.000 soldados en la frontera con Belice", El País, 22 Abril 2016 (accessed 22 April 2016)
  20. ^ "Guatemala president's brother, son held on suspicion of fraud". 19 January 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017 – via Reuters. 
  21. ^ "Samuel Morales irá a juicio por lavado de dinero". Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  22. ^ "Protests Erupt in Guatemala Over Laws to Dilute Antigraft Campaign" - The New York Times
  23. ^ "Crisis flares in Guatemala over corruption and organised crime" | The Guardian
  24. ^ "Thousands of protesters in Guatemala demand president's resignation". 7 March 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2018 – via Reuters. 
  25. ^ "Anti-president protests during Guatemala independence day". Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  26. ^ "Jimmy Morales's war on Guatemala's graft-busters". The Economist. 31 Aug 2017. 
  27. ^ a b c "Guatemala’s president tried to expel the U.N. commissioner who announced he was under investigation" - The Washington Post
  28. ^ "El presidente de Guatemala destituye a su canciller y al vicecanciller - ELESPECTADOR.COM". 27 August 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  29. ^ "Guatemala ordena expulsar al colombiano Iván Velásquez, jefe anticorrupción". 27 August 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  30. ^ "Jimmy ratifica decisión de nombrar non grato a Iván Velásquez". Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  31. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "Guatemala parliament votes to keep immunity for President Jimmy Morales - News - DW - 12.09.2017". DW.COM. Retrieved 8 March 2018. 
  32. ^ a b c d e "Former Guatemala defense minister arrested on corruption charges". Reuters News. 2018-01-26. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alejandro Maldonado
President of Guatemala
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ricardo Sagastume
2011, declined
National Convergence Front nominee for
President of Guatemala

Most recent
Preceded by
José Luis Quilo
Secretary-General of the
National Convergence Front

Succeeded by
Édgar Ovalle